Your upcoming movie As Darkness Falls - in a few words, what
is it about?
is the story of a young teenager called Christopher who lives with his
parents in a converted
carriage on the coast of Kent at Dungeness. After a car crash shatters the
community, he is
to deal with the ever increasing erratic and delusional behaviour of his
father, Michael, who
at the nearby nuclear power station.
solace in the beautiful and troublesome Isabelle, Christopher embarks on a
journey of love,
and redemption as those closest to him hurtle towards a darkness which
will forever cast its
over the isolated community.
its heart it is a dark phycological thriller which explores love, family,
loss and the transition from
into the adult world. I guess it’s a commentary on the loss of innocence
and the dark
we carry as adults.
What were your inspirations when writing As
Darkness Falls, and is any of this based on personal experiences?
all started with a weekend away and a trip down to Dungeness in Kent.
Walking along that lonely
of pebble beach, the idea for the story started forming in my mind. It was
a really exciting
I remember going home and pretty much fleshing out the entire story that
it has gone through many many drafts since.
original idea was to write it as a novel. Then over the summer I read a
hugely inspiring book
Without a Crew by
Robert Rodriguez, the director of From Dusk Till
Dawn, and how
made his first feature film for about $7,000. After reading that I decided
to sit down and re-write
I had started as a screenplay.
started writing it in June and it took me until September before I had a
draft I was happy with.
after we had finance in place and I had a tweet from Robert himself, a
for me as I felt it bookended the writing process.
have incorporated a lot of my personal experiences into the characters,
not events as such, but
emotions, thoughts and feelings. An actor said to me that all of the
characters, even the
ones, jumped off the page for him. I think perhaps that’s because each
of them, at their
derive their feelings and motivations from real events. It was a very raw
process writing such
characters and it took me to some very dark places.
difficult opening yourself up when you write, you pour so much emotion
into the story and its
you really do bare all. I spent 3 months writing the script and then to
have to hand it
for others to critique is a difficult and exposing process but one that is
I was absolutely floored by some of the amazing and heartfelt feedback I
got from the
which is such a great feeling as this is a culmination of 10 years of my
As Darkness Falls is your debut feature as a director - what made
you choose exactly this story for your first movie?
wanted to not only tell a story that I would really enjoy watching but
also make something that no
else was making at the moment. That was my core motivation for this movie.
I had spent time
to raise finance for another script by a very talented writer but realised
that we were looking
raise the same amount of money as far more experienced producers and
directors in a very
genre. I looked at what all of the great breakthrough directors had done
as their first
and they all defined their genre rather than imitated success. If I can
imitate even a small
of their success I will be happy.
is a daunting prospect moving from short film into features but absolutely
thrilling. Nothing quite
you for the task at hand.
really helps is the support of the team you build around yourself as a director. Making sure
everyone has the same vision and can see what you are trying to achieve. I
have a fantastic producer
called Anthony Allin from Timeworks Films who has taken so much pressure
off me and
me to focus on the creative aspects of the story.
am also very lucky to have a woman by my side who has inspired, supported
and encouraged me
all those difficult times and the ones still to come.
suppose the right locations are key to your movie - so where will you film
it, and what do you expect to be the advantages and challenges shooting
location is very important to this story, the environment that Michael,
Christopher and Isabelle
and breath within is as much a character in the film as they are.
Dungeness has a real
feel about it. Every location exists and the narrative is intimately woven
It really couldn't be shot anywhere else.
are shooting the internals in London for a week and then on location in
Dungeness for 2 weeks
that. A lot of Michael’s narrative is set at night which is going to
provide its own unique set of
at that time of the year, although we have the advantage that all of the
to each other and privately owned so we don't have to deal with a lengthy
with the council and have a single point of contact for every location in
can you tell us about the intended look and feel of your movie?
with the narrative I want the look of the film to stay away from the tired
stereotypes of both indie
and horror. I intend to use light, specifically coloured light, to enhance
the storyline in so far
making it seem even more unnatural than it already does; oranges and reds
for Michael’s story
and more subtle light airy scenes using greens and blues for Christopher.
is embodied in the landscape in so far as his scenes are mostly outdoors
and mirror his
journey and exploration of the world, whereas his father's scenes are
very claustrophobic in nature even with the external scenes.
What can you tell us about the cast of
As Darkness Falls, and why exactly these people?
is going on at the moment and we are in talks with some absolutely
incredible actors to
Michael and Christopher who, unfortunately, I cannot mention by name at
the moment until
deals have been finalised.
can mention Emily Haigh however, who plays Isabelle, one of the lead
characters in the film. She
an exceptionally talented actress who at only 19 years old has also
written and directed her own
films and is really starting to make a name for herself. In fact she is
credited on As Darkness
as an associate producer because of her contributions in helping shape the
script. I am also
to work with a superb actor and friend of mine, Henry Garrett, who I have
on two of my shorts; Anonymous and Rabbit Foot.
As far as I know, As
Darkness Falls is still in pre-production as we speak - so what's the
schedule, and any idea when and where the film might be onto the general
public yet (even though I know it's probably waaay too early to ask)?
are currently in pre-production as you said but the turn around has been
far. I started writing the story in June last year and had a first draft
by September that I was
with, so from concept to filming is going to be around 9 months. The
current schedule is to
from the end of March through towards the end of April before going into
post production, so
should have a finished cut of the film in June and within a year from
concept. That should allow
to get the film ready for the festival season and distribution.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
be honest As Darkness Falls is all consuming at the moment, however I do
have two future
that I have started to craft into a more solid narrative. They are both in
a very early stage
development so I can’t say too much about them yet but one is very
existential and follows two
souls set in Paris and I am really keen to shoot it in French. The other
is a sweeping narrative
three generations set in the wilds of Siberia, a very ambitious movie.
have also always wanted to turn a series of books I read as a young adult
into movies and am
looking to secure the option at the moment. If I am successful then they
will be my next
got you into the filmworld in the first place, and did you receive any
formal education on the subject?
I grew up in a village called Meidrim in rural Wales, a small community of
less than 600 people.
I was very young I had an old Commodore 64, a games console, if you can
even call it that.
had this really simple programming language called “Basic” and I
realised that by some simple
and using keyboard characters I could make these little Stick figure
animations out of
letters so I started experimenting telling these really simple stories.
I turned 15 and wanted to go into film for my work experience my school
suggested I work
Snappy Snaps. Not quite what I had in mind so I arranged work experience
on my own in
and worked at a small animation company called The Hive. Which is where I
realised it wasn't animation I was passionate about but being able to tell
stories. When I moved to
I was lucky enough to be introduced to a company called Raindance, a
film training and that is known for its film festival, where I did a
foundation course in
I shot my first short film in 2006 shortly afterwards.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to As Darkness Falls?
founded my company Inspiration Films in 2006 and produced many short films
over the years.
recently I produced three films starting with Anonymous starring Amanda
Drew and Henry
in 2012, then a film called The Pugilist's Son in 2013 starring Gary
Stretch (Dead Man's Shoes)
and Paul Barber (The Full Monty), which was financed by an executive
Stewart who was involved with The Frozen Ground and Fire with Fire
starring Bruce Willis.
most recent film was called Rabbit Foot, a period Second World War film
where we cast Laura
from Game of Thrones and Will Payne who was in Mr Selfridge and
writers, whoever else who inspire you?
love drama. Thought provoking stories about real people in real
situations, specifically situations
of their control. It’s an idea that has always intrigued me; how we are
not only products of
upbringing but shaped by events completely outside of our control,
whatever those may be.
chance encounter, a glance across a room, a tragedy which might befall a
family. Just being in
wrong place at the wrong time. Or perhaps, the right place at the right
time. Growing up my
had an extensive library and early on I stumbled across the works of the
likes of Camus,
and Kafka and from reading those books I started to become interested in
the idea of
Existence through Experience”. That one line underpins the stories I
want to tell.
far as writers and directors go I have long been a big fan of Cormac
McCarthy as a storyteller. I
find myself transfixed by his novels such as Outer Dark and of course
The Road. I think
fascinates me with those stories is we join the characters during a short
period in their lives,
around a series of important, life changing events. It is this idea of
glimpsing a fleeting
in a characters life that I wanted to capture in my story. The idea that
the narrative carries
beyond the final page. Or the credits of a film for that matter.
also love the work of the Coen Brothers who are such masterful
storytellers, No Country For Old Men
for example (also written by McCarthy, funnily enough) and Fargo which
landscapes with an incredible and brutal narrative.
the work of Terrence Malick such as The Tree of Life for its gorgeous
sweeping story arc and
of those there are so so many filmmakers who have inspired my journey,
own grit and determination to make it in the industry: Quentin Tarantino,
Nolan, Danny Boyle and Guy Ritchie to name just a few.
like a really wide variety of films, so many that it’s difficult to nail
them down. Everything from
to fantasy, sci-fi to westerns. For me it’s the ones that really dig
deep emotionally even if
takes you to some uncomfortable places. Films that don't shy away from
that we find hard to connect with or breaking the traditional 3 act
structure such as Place Beyond
The Pines and Night Crawler. Most recently I really enjoyed Denis
... and of course, films you really deplore?
is a strong word. I am not a huge fan of action movies or romantic
comedies for example
that doesn't mean there is any less merit. It’s about the story, if you
can connect with the
then it is a good movie. We all connect differently and that’s the
beauty of cinema.
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up in such a small and isolated community as I did was a fantastic
opportunity for me. I
on a beautiful farm and was surrounded by the most incredible scenery
some of my early writing. It was an inspiring place to grow up. Wales is a
one I am sure has many stories to tell. There are stories from my
childhood set around
and the Pembrokeshire coast that I would like to tell one day.
remember every winter, almost without fail, the snow would come and we
would be pretty much
off from the rest of society. The nearest supermarket was 40 minutes drive
away so we used to
up on food before the snow arrived and you could almost guarantee the
electricity would go
at some point. Not like here in London, a few hours off and then back to
the warmth and
It would be gone for days and days. My parents used to have to cook on
and we would huddle around the coal fire. I remember we had one of those
holders, almost victorian, and going to bed walking the corridors of our
old Welsh long
by candlelight. It was an incredibly atmospheric place to grow up.
world away from the life in North London with my wife Chloe. But like I
mentioned earlier about
being a product of circumstance and experience, along the way my path has
twists and turns but here I am. I am always fascinated to look back at the
events that have led
me to where I am now. Hindsight is a powerful thing, looking back and
being able to connect
dots. All we can do is find what we love doing and what we are passionate
about and push as
towards those goals as we can, maybe those goals change as we get older
but always fight for
what you really want in life.
for the interview!
Special thanks to Richard S Barnett, founder of IIWYK!!!